State plan to clean up Fairbanks winter air won't immediately include local measures

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska — Any new measures taken by the Fairbanks North Star Borough to curb wintertime air pollution probably will not be immediately incorporated into a state plan to address the problem, a state clean air official said.

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation is putting the finishing touches on a plan required by the federal Environmental Protection Agency before the end of the year to address chronic Fairbanks air problems.

Borough voters Oct. 7 rejected an extension of a measure that banned the borough from regulating air pollution. However, changes made locally probably will not be done in time to be included in the state plan, said Alice Edwards, head of DEC's Air Quality Division.

"The plan under development was being built based on the borough's authorities prior to the election and the local programs currently in place," Edwards by email. "The upcoming year-end federal deadline for plan transmittal to EPA does not provide much time to incorporate new ideas before the draft plan is released for public review."

Fairbank wintertime air is regularly out of compliance with federal standards because of particulate emitted by people heating with wood as an alternative to expensive heating oil. Research ties particulate to pollution to heart attacks, decreased lung function and premature death in people with heart or lung disease. The young and the elderly also are vulnerable.

The state plan for long-term corrections considers fines for inefficient wood-burning devices, voluntary programs such as wood stove exchanges and activity on bringing natural gas to the Fairbanks market, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (http://bit.ly/1rnj0CP) reported.

The state plan must include scientific modeling to show that federal clean air standards can be met.


Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com

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